Friday, January 31, 2014

Socializing your puppy...

I have listened to my coworkers complain about how their dogs do not get along with other dogs.  They complain about how they can't take their dogs anywhere.  They question why their dogs behave this way, but in may cases, this behavior is the result of a lack of socialization when the dog was young. 

For a puppy to mature into a friendly, confident adult dog, he or she must be exposed to many different people, animals, experiences and places.  Your puppy should have a variety of interesting experiences, and every new experience should be treated as a fun, new adventure.  Your puppy needs to bond with you, so that they trust you to lead the way in these new situations that are potentially frightening to a young puppy.  From the time a puppy is 8 weeks old, until she is 16 weeks old, is the ideal time to introduce your puppy to new people, animals, places and experiences. 

This includes giving her a first bath, trimming her nails so she doesn't mind you touching her paws.  And invite young children, who are gentle, to interact with your puppy under close supervision.  If you are a woman, living alone, introduce your puppy to friendly men, especially those in uniform.  Begin leash and collar training, most puppies do not like being led by a leash at first, so make it a game and reward them for following you.

But one of the best things you can do for your puppy is help her to learn how to play with other dogs.  Many dog training facilities offer Puppy Kindergarten classes, where puppies can play and interact with each other in a safe environment with supervision by trainers.

There is a checklist of things/people you should introduce to your puppy before he or she is 16 weeks old.
Unfamiliar People
People of different ethnicities
Men with deep voices
Tall men
Men with beards
People in uniforms
People wearing hats
People wearing hoodies
People with canes, walkers or crutches
People in wheelchairs
young children
People running/jogging

Unfamiliar animals
Older dogs
other puppies
Dogs who play well with others
horses and livestock

New Surfaces
slippery surfaces
metal surfaces
standing on a table, for examination
wet grass
snow (if possible)

Unfamiliar sounds
Vacuum cleaner
knocking on the door
ringing the door bell

Things with wheels

stores (like Petco/Petsmart
city environment
country environment

The idea is to expose your puppy to as many new things, in a fun and positive way, as possible.  This will help to prevent your adult dog from reacting with fear or aggression.  After all, you could have a dog who never leaves the house/yard and is afraid of strangers or other animals.  Or you could have a dog that can go anywhere with you, and who thinks each new experience is an adventure.  Which would you want?  Kori is very happy that we took her to puppy socialization classes as a puppy, you can see it when you watch her visit Doggie Daycare with my daughter. It's up to you!


  1. We have taken our boys to puppy play dates, puppy training and lots of trips to the pet stores so that they got use to people and noises.

  2. Sadly, I did all that, and I still have a fearful dog after he was attacked by another dog :( He's never been the same since. All that socialization work down the tubes.

    1. Unfortunately, a fearful dog as a result from a traumatic experience becomes a whole different situation than just needing socialization. But it IS possible to work with him to be able to "ignore" other dogs. I have a fearful dog too (an Aussie).

  3. Toby loves his Doggie Day Care! Great video. Pretty cool to see the St. Bernard too, just so much bigger, but all playing happily.

  4. Love this post! Socialization is so important especially done at an early age. Teach was a very reserved puppy and without socialization I do fear we would have had a backwards guy with some situations.

  5. Love this post! Very good tips for socialization. Teach was a very reserved little guy and without all the socialization we did I'm afraid we would have had a backwards guy in some situations. (I tried commenting a minute ago and I am not sure it went through so I'm trying again. If it shows up twice, sorry!)

  6. Great post. Angus loved puppy class and we thinks he did just great there. I myself am very social and think everyone in the world loves me but Margaret Mae has been anxiety issues outside of our home. We thinks it was poor breeding conditions she came from. We love her though.
    stella rose, margaret mae and angus mcconnell